Home Mobile Music Downloads Began in ’92 (1892)

Mobile Music Downloads Began in ’92 (1892)

I didn’t start using a mobile device to rock me some of that sweet, sweet sissy bounce until I got my Android smart phone last year. I figured I’d need such a device to do justice to the music. Little did I know I could have done it with grandma’s candlestick telephone.

According to an article in Scientific American published in July of 1892, the “théâtrophone” system had been use in Paris for two years at the time. You could listen from your home or from telephones in various public locations to popular concerts. In an early form of RSS, you could even subscribe!

According to Scientific American’s “Anecdotes from the Archive” blog:

“The basic idea was to be able to call into a theater and hear live music being played. One could either subscribe to receive the service in home or utilize one of the theatrophones set up in various locales such as hotels, restaurants, vestibules, and cafes throughout the city.

“For 50 centimes, one could listen to five minutes of music. A wicket on the front of the machine displayed the theater from which the music was heard. There was one central station where the Theatrophone Company operated out of, and this was connected to several secondary stations that were placed in the theaters. A series of microphones were set up on the stage and picked up the sound to be transmitted back to the central station.”

Pioneered and first demonstrated by Clément Ader in 1881, it remained in use until 1932, when the company running the system, Compagnie du Théâtrophone, went out of business.

Among its fans? Marcel Proust, Victor Hugo, the king of Portugal and the president of France.

I’m not sure what this “goes to show.” Maybe that people have similar impulses throughout time and use the technology they have available to make reality accord to their dreams? Sure. Let’s go with that. Or just geek out on it.

Illustrations from Wikimedia Commons | other sources: io9, Wikipedia

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